(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) -- Illinois lawmakers took a major step in legalizing same-sex marriage on Thursday when the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill that would sanction the unions.
The vote was 34 to 21 with two abstentions.
Although Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk, passing the measure in the House will likely be more problematic.
Currently, Illinois permits civil unions for both heterosexuals and homosexuals.
Catholic leaders in the state are vehemently opposed to any same-sex marriage legislation, arguing that the Bible says marriage is only between one man and one woman.
If the measure passes, the definition of marriage officially would be altered in state law from an act between a man and a woman to two people.
Illinois is trying to join nine other states and the District of Columbia that allow same-sex couples to wed.
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